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Local PGA Head Professional Robert Hunter steps down after 35 years

Hunter’s looking forward to playing some senior tour events, while Ben Tebbs takes over at Malden Golf Club as its new PGA Head Professional

After a long serving career with one club, Malden’s Robert Hunter will be retiring as the club’s PGA Head Professional and Golf Manager on January 1st 2017. Having been an Assistant at Malden for nine years, Hunter went on to be their highly effective and successful PGA Head Professional for the next 26 years - an achievement in its own right.

Ben Tebbs, Hunter’s Assistant for the last 20 years, will be taking over, and as he put it, “Robert’s leaving a very big pair of shoes to step into, but I’ve had a few years of him showing me how to both run a successful shop and do the Golf Manager role effectively, so I’m pretty confident of getting it right!”

Hunter’s professional career has witnessed massive changes in golf, particularly in members’ golf clubs and the ways in which golf managers and professionals have had to adapt to those changes.

Asked what his single biggest achievement has been, it’s one that makes more sense in the light of those changes, as he explains: “The industry itself is very different from the one I started in. So I’d say that my single biggest achievement is not simply being the PGA Head Professional at the same club, Malden, for 26 years, but adapting to the impact of the changes on members’ clubs - hence my role as the club’s Golf Manager.”

He continues, “While equipment’s changed almost beyond recognition, so have the ways in which it’s sold. The traditional Pro Shop is under constant threat from its newer rivals online and on the high street, but PGA Professionals have countered all that and the ever present problem of counterfeit equipment pretty effectively, using their position of being closer to their customers to survive and succeed.”

“But with arguably too many clubs vying for the apparently decreasing number of golfing participants,” he says, “the ‘dash for cash’ is fuelling a never-ending cheapening of the game, and while golf is more accessible than ever, that ‘dash’ has become a vicious cycle that’s undermining so many golf clubs’ efforts to stay in business, give their members and visitors what they want, and meet their all too often much higher expectations for less money.”

Tebbs adds: “Perhaps Robert’s other biggest achievement is to have made my job as his successor that much more straightforward, as he’s leaving the club in excellent shape with a thriving membership.”

So what’s Hunter going to do with all that spare time on his hands? “Simple really: play more golf! I’ve dabbled in some Seniors golf already and now I’m going to devote a lot more of my time to playing in those and Surrey PGA events still, as well as enjoying the sunshine, travel, food and life generally!”

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